My Fault, I'm Female

Yeah yeah it’s MF but it’s great!

I have a broken arm at the moment, quite frustrating when my career relies on my ability to arrange words in the right order, but at the same time the amount of support offered by friends, family, and often complete strangers has been brilliant.

Except for a small proportion of the complete strangers, almost exclusively those who are male and over 50; they like to make domestic violence jokes.

“You want to get yourself a better boyfriend next time, Luv”. He nudges me in the ribs as we wait to get off the train.

Good stuff. I love the instant male MeFite reaction of saying those stories sounded unbelievable, then dozens of women saying they’ve had very similar things happen to them. Happens in almost every gender thread over there.

I don’t know about that blog. It’s a strange mixture of some women being bitter, some women being funny, and some women who I’d imagine are stocking up on ammunition (at least I would be.) Good reading if you like The Office (UK The Office.)

(UK The Office.)

I noticed the majority of comments were from women in the UK. Is that a cultural thing or is it just that the site isn’t very well known in North America yet, I wonder.

Some remarkably shitty stuff on there. Although, to be fair, if I went on a night out in Bradford and got away with just a bit of cola chucked on me I’d have considered myself to have got off lightly.

EDIT: Reading further through it, there are some absolutely horrific ones. Like the guy who agreed to give his wife’s surname to his kid as a middle name, then promptly reneges on the agreement when said sprog arrives, saying he only agreed "“ecause you would have argued otherwise”. He deserves to be kicked soundly in the balls four or five times daily.

This site only renewed my interest in FML, which seems to have a inordinate number of UK as well.

I was moving from one part of England down to London to start up the London branch (of an organisation committed to gender equality). One day, my boss said to me that he was worried that I would move to London, and then “there would be men, and then babies,” inferring that I’d therefore be a less valuable worker. I told him that he never would have said that to a man.


Man, this one. That kind of thing is one of the worst and most common types of workplace discriminations.

Yeah, it is. Part of the problem is that there is SOME truth to it. I’m obviously not condoning discrimination. I’m just noting that women are more likely than men to take baby leave (though some places are now offering paternity leave, and bravo). Anyway, because maternity leave is more common, it makes some sense that employers would think about it.

Why link to metafilter instead of the actual blog though?

McCullough, are you going through a sex change operation? Where do you find this stuff?

What? There’s no truth to it. My being able to take maternity leave does not make me less of a valued employee or somehow reflect that I won’t be a hard worker anymore than you being able to take that vacation you’ve accrued does. Not all women are going to run out and have babies.

Paternity leave is statewide over here in Mass I believe, but somehow I don’t think employers will be looking at males in their late 20s or early 30s and saying “My god, we can’t hire/promote him, he may want children someday!”

Or maybe he’s worried that she will find someone and have kids which will remove her from his workforce, something he would rather not have.

The site is rife with bitter women looking for an excuse to get pissed. Most are legit, many are not.

There is some truth to it though from the perspective of an employer assessing risks that a person will leave. Most employers don’t have paternity leave on par with maternity leave, unfortunately, which would be a step towards equalizing things.

There’s also the sad truth that compared to women, very few men decide to put their careers on hold when they have kids in order to be a stay at home parent. According to a U.S. Bureau of the Census report released in May 2006, there were 143,000 stay-at-home dads versus 5.6 million stay-at-home moms in 2005 (“Americans Marrying Older, Living Alone More, See Households Shrinking” U.S. Census Bureau, May 25, 2006).

This is why I refuse to hire guys who’re under 30. They’re always getting into extreme sports accidents. I need them around to write reports but they go off to do some vert skateboarding, pumping some transitions, dropping into the halfpipe and then the next thing you know both arms are shattered and I’m out a report-guy for like six weeks.

I also rarely hire men over 45 due to the increased likelihood of heart problems. The worst thing is to have some guy come in, start getting comfortable and then, bam, heart attack. Fucker’s dead and I’m the one looking for a new Director of Gifting! Jesus!

I also never hire Jews because of their crazy-ass holidays.

Which is something that is changing more and more over the years considering women were SUPPOSED to stay at home with their kids until about two or three generations ago. When my mother went into the workforce she had the choice of being a nurse or a secretary and that was pretty much it. Otherwise you were supposed to be a homemaker. Clearly, that is not the case anymore and why you see the number of stay-at-home dads rising.

But you cannot and should not take something like maternity leave into account when you are hiring or promoting. It’s discrimination, pure and simple. You have no idea what is going to happen in that woman’s life anymore than you know that the guy you’re hiring is going to be living the high life and dying in some drag racing accident or something. Or worse, becoming disabled. I guess no one should hire anyone in the armed services just to be safe!

The counterpoint: I worked at a place where our group’s manager got transferred to another section of the company. We promoted a lot from within, so our team lead at the time got promoted to management. She promptly went out and got herself knocked up and took off on maternity leave and we spent the first year of her regime basically spinning our wheels and trying to figure out our direction.

Not all discrimination is bad. If I owned a company, I would want an agreement from anybody that I promoted into a position of responsibility that they wouldn’t be going anywhere for at least six months. In states that only protect maternity leave, then that agreement would have to be limited to women I was promoting. In states that also protect paternity leave, I’d want the same agreement from the men. Preferably in writing.

Nicely put.

Of course it’s discrimination, I wasn’t trying to assert it was defensible or legal behavior. I was just pointing out that there is some truth to the notion that women in a certain age bracket are demonstrably more likely to put their careers on hold for family reasons than men.

Good luck proving it. I don’t condone it, but I know a few of my ex-bosses most assuredly factored in the maternity leave variable in their hiring, firing, and promotion choices.

Well, I assume that it had been in the works for a while and that her husband had a vote in the matter, but we didn’t find out that she was expecting until after she was promoted. It caused problems. Things would have been much, much smoother if, instead of not being around, she had, you know, BEEN AROUND for the entirety of that initial transitional period instead of leaving our large, multinational group to basically operate on its own with our new team lead having to do double duty for her. It’s her right to go get pregnant whenever she wants to, but I consider it irresponsible management to put somebody in a position of authority when you reasonably expect that person not to be in the position for a significant enough period of time to get things established. I would have no problem signing a document that said I promise not to take more than a week or two of voluntary leave for the first six months to one year of my tenure in a management position, and I don’t think I’d change my mind if I had different plumbing.

Good golly, man, take this back before the pile-on starts.

My wife worked at a company for seven years, during which time she was consistently paid less money than men who did less than she did, while also being asked to teach sixty-year-old bankers how to use their email and book their flights (not her job description). She had to take some pregnancy-related medical leave for a few months, and when she was ready to come back, she called her boss (a greyhair who had been with the bank since the sixties), his first words to her were “So, I’m trying to decide whether I want to take you back or not.”

If we want to live in a world where men and women are working side by side, then allowing women to take leave for children is simply the price companies must pay. I think there are enough statistics demonstrating that having women in the workplace is good for “corporate productivity” by now, no?